Sunday, March 8, 2015

BUDDHACARITA 14.22: Being Slaughtered On Account of Skin, Etc.

māṁsa-tvag-vāla-dantārthaṁ vairād api madād api |
hanyante kpaṇaṁ yatra bandhūnāṁ paśyatām api || 14.22 

On account of their flesh, skin, hair and teeth,

Out of sheer aggression and also just for fun,

Here they are slaughtered, lamentably –

Even as their kind look on.

Ostensibly the bodhisattva is describing, for example, pigs being slaughtered for their meat, snakes being slaughtered to make snakeskin handbags, mink being slaughtered for their fur, and elephants being slaughtered for their ivory. The 2nd pāda brings to mind the machismo of the big game hunter who expresses his male aggression and at the same time gets his kicks, from killing wild animals.

Below the surface, the ironic meaning is easily brought out by considering what happens in school playgrounds around the world, when little human beings bully and tease each other.

In the latter case, the ones operating at the level of not-yet-fully-upright animals might be not only the objects of bullying and teasing but also the ones doing the bullying and teasing, on account, for example, of the colour of the other's skin.

That said, I have worked with children over the years who were the victims of bullying, and have seen more than one instance in which, when a child's balance got better, so that his or her general confidence improved, the bullying stopped. So the bullying would sometimes seem to be the manifestation of the mirror principle whereby I, in fear of being weak, attack whatever weakness I see in others. 

But such ignorant behaviour as bullying is not the action of a human being who is fully human. It is not the action of a human being who is fully conscious, or fully upright. 

My advice to the mother is not to worry about the behaviour of the bully, but to focus on doing what we can to build her child's confidence, especially by working with primitive vestibular reflexes.

In conclusion, if I know anything about the act of knowing whose bringing-into-being, Nāgārjuna said, is the basis of the destruction of ignorance, then I know that the knowing in question has to do with allowing oneself to be directed up. So not me doing it. But it doing itself. Hence, again:
The doings that lead to rebirth one veiled in ignorance, in three ways [with body, speech and mind], / Does do; and by these actions he enters a sphere of existence. //MMK26.1 // Consciousness seeps, with doings as causal grounds, into the sphere of existence./ And so, consciousness having seeped in, pychophysicality is infused. //26.2// There again, once psychophysicality is infused, there is the coming into existence of the six senses; / The six senses having arrived, contact arises; //26.3// And when the faculty of sight, going back, has met a physical form, and met indeed a meeting together, / – When sight has gone back, in this way, to psychophysicality – then consciousness arises. //26.4// The combination of the three – physical form, consciousness and faculty of seeing – / Is contact; and from that contact arises feeling. //26.5// On the grounds of feeling, there is thirst – because one thirsts for the object of feeling. / While the thirsting is going on, grasping hold takes hold in four ways.//26.6// While there is grasping hold, the becoming originates of the one who grasps – / Because becoming, in the absence of grasping hold, would be set free and would not become becoming. //26.7// The five aggregates, again, are the becoming. Out of the becoming rebirth is born. / The suffering of ageing and death, and all the rest of it – sorrows, along with lamentations; //26.8// Dejectedness, troubles – all this arises out of rebirth. / Thus there is the coming about of this whole mass of suffering. //26.9// The doings which are the root of saṁsāra thus does the ignorant one do. / The ignorant one therefore is the doer; the wise one is not, because of reality making itself known. //26.10// In the destruction of ignorance, there is the non-coming-into-being of doings./ The destruction of ignorance, however, is because of the bringing-into-being of just this act of knowing.//26.11// By the destruction of this one and that one, this one and that one are discontinued. / This whole edifice of suffering is thus well and truly demolished.//MMK26.12//

Finally, speaking of lamenting, and speaking of unconscious behaviour, here is something that apparently I do almost every morning without realizing it. Shortly after waking up, as I reflect on having made a mess of this and that, my wife informs me, I invariably let out a groan. So when I groaned first thing this morning, she laughed and said something to the effect of "There you go. As usual." 

Such is life in saṁsāra. I don't want to be a hypocrite by sounding as if I am singing from the same hymn sheet as the bodhisattva who, when sitting fully and easily upright under the bodhi tree, saw that the cycle of saṁsāra was as open to being broken as the fragile pseudo-stem of a banana plant (BC14.6). 

māṁsa-tvag-vāla-dantārtham: ind. (acc. sg. n.): for their flesh, skin, fur and teeth
vāla: m. the hair of any animal's tail (esp. of a horse's tail) , any tail or hair ; bristle

vairāt (abl. sg.): n. enmity , hostility , animosity , grudge , quarrel or feud
vīra: m. a man , (esp.) a brave or eminent man , hero , chief
api: even, also
madāt (abl. sg.): m. hilarity , rapture , excitement , inspiration , intoxication
api: even, also

hanyante = 3rd pers. pl. passive han: to smite, slay
kṛpaṇam: ind. miserably , pitiably (see also BC14.11)
kṛp: to mourn, lament
yatra: ind. wherein, in which state

bandhūnām (gen. pl.): m. connection , relation , association ; a kinsman (esp. on the mother's side) , relative , kindred ; a friend (opp. to ripu)
paśyatām = gen. pl. m. pres. part. paś: to see
api: even

或爲皮肉死 毛角骨尾羽
更互相殘殺 親戚還相噉 

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